Saturday, December 3, 2011

Time Travel

I have become a time traveller. It began with the Wild West, walking the dusty streets of Dodge with Wyatt Earp and galloping to the next boomtown in search of gold, then with the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I found myself in 18th Century Venice, floating the canals and listening to the music of Vivaldi, and now suddenly I am thrust into early 20th Century watching rehearsals of The Rite of Spring in Paris!
The Wild West and Circus Juventas!

A view of Venice by the artist, Guardi

Dancers from The Rite of Spring, 1913

How is this time travel possible, you might ask? Imagination helps, but research is the key. Immersing myself in library books, internet sites, art books, Westerns, movies set in Venice, fiction and non-fiction, I am swimming from one century to the next. Why am I time traveling? All fall I have been writing the script for the next Circus Juventas summer show. The theme this year is the "Wild West". Finding characters, hearing conversations with a cowboy twang, envisioning the locale, and determining a plot are possible only through lots of research- books on the West and movies, lots of Westerns!

I was sick with the flu for nearly three weeks in October and when November 1st rolled around I decided to amuse myself in bed by trying NaNoWriMo for the first time. A story set in 18th Century Venice had been knocking around in my head for over a year, so I took this opportunity of being housebound and joined the thousands of people who take the pledge to write 1600 words a day for the month of November and begin my first novel! Books and music filled my days as I asked questions of my characters, made up conversations, and began to determine a plot. I managed to write 105 pages by the end of the month. I didn't win the NaNoWriMo medal, but I have begun a story I love and that is what counts! However I have to put it away because I have a new deadline for a new picture book set in Paris in the early part of the 20th Century. Now I find myself rehearsing with the Ballets Russes and listening to Stravinsky's outrageous orchestrations through books, CDs, and documentaries, then making sketches for the illustrations inspired by all that I see and hear. I think I will stay in Paris for awhile now, though the Wild West will undoubtedly lasso me back from time to time.

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